Monday 25 March 2019

Pick of the week: This Time with Alan Partridge

Monday, BBC1, 9.30pm, Back on the box

This Time with Alan Partridge
This Time with Alan Partridge
Paul Whitington

Paul Whitington

I think we all know which way Alan Partridge would have voted on Brexit: the erstwhile sports reporter, talk show host and disgraced regional radio jock is a dyed-in-the-wool Little Englander, with a deep suspicion of all things 'foreign' and a puzzling fondness for traditional British cuisine. He must be a happy man at the moment, therefore, as his country lurches towards a hard Brexit and years of international isolation, but will be even happier that, after a gap of several decades, he's finally got back on the telly.

For those of you sketchy on the great man's media career, he landed his own TV talk show in the mid-1990s, on which he irritated and humiliated his guests by forcing them to go through the laborious "knowing me Alan Partridge, knowing you…" routine. His show was abruptly cancelled after he accidentally shot dead a guest on air, the BBC dumped him, as did his wife, and he ended up spinning discs and chatting inanely on the graveyard shift at Radio Norwich.

But god loves a trier, and in this new sitcom an opportunity has arisen that Alan is determined to grasp with both hands. When the presenter of a BBC daytime chat show called This Time falls unexpectedly ill, Partridge (nervous as a kitten) is drafted in as a temporary replacement. How will the veteran broadcaster handle the pressure of live television, and the rapidly changing moods of a show that covers everything from pets and cooking slots to politics and terrorism? Not well, if his track record is anything to go on.

Partridge, who was originally the brainchild of Steve Coogan and Armando Iannucci, is one of the truly great comic creations, an inept everyman with zero self-knowledge and a pathetic quality that makes him impossible to hate. As Coogan said recently, Alan supports Brexit because the Daily Mail "told him to", and Iannucci once described him as "the perfect broadcaster for our times, when there are 24 hours to kill and dead time is a crime - he has a unique capacity to fill any vacuum with his own verbal vacuum".


Sports picks

Live Six Nations

Today, Virgin Media 1, 1pm

France have blown hot and cold thus far in the tournament, and have been brilliant in patches, almost comically inept at times. How will they play against a wily Scots side at the Stade de France? It all depends on how they start. That game kicks off at 2.30pm, and will be followed at 4.45pm by the potentially championship-deciding meeting of Wales and England at the Millennium Stadium.

Live Super Sunday

Sunday, Sky Sports Main Event, 1pm

An intriguing afternoon's football begins with the Premier League clash of Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield, with Manchester City hoping their local rivals can do them a favour and shift the Reds off the top of the table. City themselves are in action at 4.30pm in the Carabao Cup Final, where they face Chelsea, whose embattled coach Maurizio Sarri is fighting for his job after that humiliating 6-0 defeat in the League - against City.


Sunday, TG4, 1.30pm

Micheál Ó Domhnaill and guests present live coverage of one of this afternoon's Round 4 Allianz National Hurling League fixtures, with Limerick V Cork, Tipperary V Kilkenny, Clare V Wexford and Dublin V Waterford the pick of today's games. There'll be reports on all the ties, and highlights tonight on RTÉ 2. (Limerick's Conor Boylan pictured below.)

Live Six Nations

Sunday, Virgin Media 1, 2pm

As they continue to prepare for bigger tests to come, all Ireland can do at the Stadio Flaminio is beat Italy, earn a bonus point and regroup for next weekend's clash with France. Anything less would be disastrous. Joe Molloy introduces live coverage, with commentary from Dave McIntyre and Alan Quinlan, and analysis from Ronan O'Gara.


Movie picks


La La Land

Tonight, BBC2, 9pm

Passing ships

In Damien Chazelle’s Oscar-winning musical, an actress and a jazz musician fall in love on the fringes of Hollywood. Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling star.



American Sniper

Tuesday, RTÉ 2, 9pm

In the crosshairs

Clint Eastwood’s war drama is based on the true story of Chris Kyle, a US Navy Seal sniper whose deadly aim made him a legend in Iraq.



Ocean’s 8

Wednesday, Sky Premiere, 8pm

One last job

In this amusing sequel, Sandra Bullock leads an all-female gang who set out to stage a daring heist at New York’s Metropolitan Museum.


TV picks


The Satanic Verses

Wednesday, BBC2, 9pm

30 years on

In February of 1988, Salman Rushdie’s life was changed forever when the Ayatollah Khomeini decided to declare a fatwa on the author.



Operation Transformation

Wednesday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm

Grand final

After eight long weeks of blood, sweat and tears, this year’s leaders take to the catwalk and find out how much they’ve achieved.



Three Identical Strangers

Thursday, Channel 4, 9pm

Long-lost triplets

Documentary telling the extraordinary story of three young men who discovered that they were identical triplets who’d been separated at birth.


Radio picks

Vox Nostra

Sunday, Lyric fm, 7am

Claudio Monteverdi's hugely influential early opera Orfeo was first performed in Mantua 412 years ago, and this morning on Vox Nostra Vlad Smishkewych plays some famous recordings, and also explores other operas inspired by the ancient Greek tragedy.

The Weekend Documentary

Sunday, BBC World Service, 2pm

In the late 1960s, a tough parole officer called Bob Hurley became basketball coach at St Anthony's High School in Jersey City. Bob and a dedicated staff would keep their pupils safe by turning the school into a centre of athletic excellence.

Drama on One

Sunday, RTÉ Radio 1, 8pm

Irene Kelleher wrote and stars in this comic radio drama set in rural Ireland in 1986. Teenage Hannah is struggling with the social restrictions of small town life and her own transgressions when she befriends someone whom she's convinced is the wife of Jesus.

The Thrilla in Manila

Friday, BBC Radio 4 Extra, 6.30am

In 1975, the Philippines' brutal dictator Ferdinand Marcos decided to stage a heavyweight bout in Manila in order to show off his country to the world. No bigger draw than Ali and Frazier, whose brutal 15-round slugfest would attract a global audience of one billion.

Weekend Magazine

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